The North of England has a not-so-glamorous reputation at home. It is often derided by metropolitan Londoners and people down South as a less cultured, slightly forgotten part of the country. Recently there was an interesting argument about the BBC Olympics presenter Alex Scott having a Northern accent and “dropping her t-s” which drove some from the ruling class establishment into utter madness. Is there any basis at all to these preconceptions or are they driven out of pure prejudice?
The city of Hull was granted the UK City of Culture status in 2017. It happens once every four years in an attempt to promote “arts and culture as a means of celebration and regeneration”. The event was split into four seasons, just like a year. The first season put emphasis on the city’s contribution to the arts industry and creative ideas; the second was concerned with celebrating migration; the third was all about freedom and the 50th anniversary of the decriminalization of homosexuality; the closing season promoted the theme of “looking forward” — reshaping Hull at the present and trying to imagine what its future could look like.
Verity Adriana, a photographer and educator born and bred in Hull, was specially commissioned by Illuminate Photography Network and Hull City Council to photograph and document this extraordinary year for the history books and the city archives. The images are full of life and vigor — smoke, light and a joyous atmosphere are palpable, yet devoid of human presence. Some photographs resemble New Year’s Eve celebratory fireworks, while others nod at a slightly less pretty side that’s omnipresent in England — the ugly face of gentrification, redeveloping old buildings into new flats, probably out of the financial reach of the local population.
The impact for the community was overall beneficial with reports claiming that the City of Culture status directly resulted in 5 million visitors, £220 million of investment and the creation of 800 jobs (BBC).
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